Thursday, April 08, 2004

Eminently browseable

I must extend props to my friend Mihir for giving me David Thomson's New Biographical Dictionary of Film. This is one funny book.

Here's Thomson's take on Ann-Margret: "They rejoice in her survival."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Another reason being a Tennessean makes me feel proud

First the county that outlawed gays, and now this.
A long day's Journey

On the Caddyshack DVD there are, among other goodies, interviews with cast members, and one interview subject is Cindy Morgan who, you'll recall, plays Lacey Underall, Ted Knight's sexually adventurous niece. Morgan observes with some exhaustion that she seems only to star in cult films. I assume this is a reference to her starring role a couple of years later in Disney's computer-animated freakout Tron.

With that in mind, I want to observe that both Caddyshack and Tron feature Journey music prominently. Tron, Caddyshack, Cindy Morgan, Journey. Connect the dots.

Since making my short, shameful confession the other day that Journey was sounding good to me, I've listened to lots more Journey, and it still sounds good to me. I've also been using MAME to play the Journey arcade game, featuring digitized, emotive heads of Journey members--quite advanced for 1983. But how could it not be? It's Journey.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Mighty Oz

While out on a run yesterday I heard Jet's tremendous "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," and I got to wondering why more Australian rockers don't make it big here, compared to, say, the number of Brits. Here are all the Australian rockers--for purposes of argument I'm using the term loosely--I can think of who had success here in the U.S. an' A.:

Air Supply
The Bee Gees
The Church
Crowded House
Natalie Imbruglia
Little River Band
Men At Work
Midnight Oil
Kylie Minogue
Olivia Newton-John
Savage Garden
Split Enz
Rick Springfield
Keith Urban
The Vines

To be sure, it's an impressive group, but it seems like slim pickins for an entire continent. But then I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

What else to make of this list I'm not certain, other than to note the fact that the 1980s were good for Australian music in the U.S., other decades not so: by my reckoning, ten of these acts made a splash here in the 1980s, and the other eight acts were big in either the 1970s, the 1990s or the 2000s. Certain of the artists straddle decades, of course, like the Bee Gees, AC/DC and fabulous Kylie Minogue.

But with the Vines and Jet, the millenium is getting off to a fine start for our musician friends from a land down under.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

That voice

Saw Monster last night, and it was great, but what's left ringing in my ears is not Charlize Theron's obscenity-laden screeds but the piercing tenor of Steve Perry, whose singing with Journey accompanies the most improbably romantic love scene I've seen in a movie since The Cooler.

The timing is funny, because I heard a couple of Journey songs while driving around the other day, and I was really struck by Perry's voice. This was a bit of a shift for me, because I never cared much for Journey. I was in fifth grade or so when the band was most successful, and even then I could perceive that they were the apotheosis of North American rock circa 1982, an overwrought genre that was sort of a slicked-up version of 1970s hard rock. At the time my musical leanings were to the past, in the Beatles and Zappa, and to the future, in the New Wave music MTV was streaming into our home. And I was just getting over a crippling addiction to Styx, who by any reckoning were Journey's peers in 1982, so I was keen to ignore the state of the art in rock music in the age of Reaganomics. (That included REO Speedwagon, whose music also is featured in Monster.)

But when I heard Journey on the radio last week (the 6/8-time anthems "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" and "Lights"), I listened to the band's music with nearly new ears. I'm really into great belters these days, people like Pink and Johnny Rivers and Kelly Clarkson, and say what you like about Journey's arrangements--Steve Perry's voice is one powerful instrument. How does he sing like that? He almost sounds like some kind of machine, and listening to him, I can sort of see how if it were 1982 again, and I was 19 and stoned to the bejeezus at a Journey concert, I just might think Journey was pretty cool.

Here's a photo of Perry with Monster director Patty Jenkins.